Rolex 24: Five things to watch after a hectic Roar Before the 24 weekend

·3 min read

The Roar is in the rear-view, and it's full steam ahead to Saturday's 60th Rolex 24.

The action picks back up Thursday and Friday with Rolex practices and several smaller races, including 45-minute Mazda shootouts and the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge.

Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, though, here are five things to keep an eye on this week:

Yep, the Wayne Taylor Acura is fast again

Wayne Taylor Racing's bid for a fourth straight Rolex 24 got off to a fast start over the weekend, where the No. 10 Acura was fastest in several practices and won Sunday's qualifying race.

It wasn't the smoothest of Roar weekend's for the group — they started last in the DPi field Sunday after failing inspection and narrowly avoided a disastrous end to the race when Richard Westbrook's No. 5 Cadillac got a little too close on the final turn.

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However, the team did more than enough to prove that they once again know their way around Daytona International Speedway.

About those Cadillacs ...

Still, it won't be easy, especially with a couple of those Cadillac DPi's looking awful sporty throughout the weekend.

Westbrook's No. 5 Caddy was the better car late in Sunday's race and it's hard to imagine Ricky Taylor being able to hold him off much longer than he did, while the No. 48 Ally Racing machine showed plenty of speed throughout the weekend and finished second in this race last year.

Both Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque admitted after the race it's something to keep an eye on this week.

"They looked strong at the end," Albuquerque said. "We need to analyze that to be better."

How about that Rolex 24 Daytona weather forecast?

Don't look now, but this cold spell isn't going anywhere, any time soon — and perhaps the coldest day, and night, of the year could fall on Saturday.

Temperatures in the Daytona Beach area on the opening day of the Rolex call for a high of just 50 degrees with lows dipping close to 30. Sunday isn't much better, with a high of just 54.

While there is no rain in the weekend forecast, rain showers are expected on and off both Thursday and Friday.

What could go wrong?

It's officially Rolex 24 week in Daytona.
It's officially Rolex 24 week in Daytona.

As expected, traffic played a role

Drivers talked about it all week, and it came to fruition during Sunday's 100-minute qualifier: navigating a 61-car field was no easy task.

Mirko Bortolotti, who drove the No. 63 Lamborghini to Victory Lane, said experience on the track will be pivotal this weekend — especially in the GTD field, where there are 35 nearly identical cars.

"The performance is really close, it doesn't matter if it's GTD Pro or GTD," he added. "The traffic played a big role, so you (need to) know how to position yourself to be in the right spot at the right time."

Rolex 24 and IMSA lineup

For the second straight year, 18 OEMs — original equipment manufacturers — will compete across the six series sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association.

Eleven OEMs will be involved in Saturday's Rolex 24, while a dozen manufacturers will compete in the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge on Friday.

IMSA also sanctions three single-make series and the IMSA Prototype Challenge.

The list of participating manufacturers this season across the sport include: Acura, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mazda, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche and Toyota.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: 5 things to watch for during Rolex 24 week at Daytona

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